Looking for a healthier summery meal that is quick, easy, refreshing & tasty? This is it! Lemony herbed salmon on a bed of brown rice and orzo, with zucchini ribbons, dried cranberries and sun dried-tomato feta cheese, topped with a sweet & tangy honey-Dijon sauce. This dish is super delicious and the final result is so pretty to look at AND to eat!
Okay, so it's no secret anymore that we absolutely LOVE salmon. There's only been one time in my adult life that I didn't want to look at another piece of fish, and that was only because we had eaten so much of it prepared in the same way, so I needed a break. That break lasted less than a week, and then I started a food blog and began cooking salmon a different way every time I made it, and friends, I believe it's now here to stay!
A few months ago, my husband and I spent a few days in New Orleans for our Anniversary. After the trip, we vowed to spend as many long weekends there as we possibly could just to eat all the incredible food. We live less than six hours away, so it wouldn't be too long of a trip for us, and I believe we could try a new restaurant every night--over the course of several long-weekend trips--and still have a lifetime of options available.
One evening in NOLA, Drew and I stopped for a super sweet dinner date in a beautifully lit French courtyard. He had steak (of course), and I had salmon. Y'all...I'm just going to throw this out there in case you don't already know; I am 100% a country girl raised on a farm in Tennessee where we ate with our elbows on the table and drank our sodas straight from the can, so I felt REEAAAL fancy sipping my filtered iced water from a crystal goblet. I'm sure I looked waay out of place, but that's totally fine with me because my husband and I enjoyed it and the meal made a lasting impression on me.
The salmon I ordered came with a side of lightly steamed, crunchy vegetables and it has the yummiest sauce drizzled on top. So a few days ago, I was thinking about ways to use the amazing food we had in New Orleans as a spring board for something new, and this is what I came up with! NOLA has so much more than just Cajun food, shrimp and grits, and muffuletta sandwiches, so if you haven't been, I recommend making a long weekend trip very soon!
I dabbed a little olive oil on some salmon filets and sprinkled them with a little Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, a little minced garlic and a little thyme, and I set the fish aside rest while I made the brown rice and orzo pilaf. The zucchini ribbons are super simple to make, too; all you need is a vegetable peeler to cut the zucchini lengthwise, and you will get long, thin even slices with every cut.
What makes this recipe so good is everything you add to it. The tangy sundried tomato feta cheese mixing with the sweet dried cranberries, and the zesty lemon & honey dijon sauce over the garlic and thyme crusted salmon--there is just so much flavor packed into such a simple meal, and in some ways, while we were eating it, I felt as fancy as I did in New Orleans all over again. The only difference is that I was in my own kitchen this time, and that's a good feeling to have!!
2 Salmon filets
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium zucchini
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup orzo pasta
1/2 cup brown rice
4 teaspoons Better than Bouillon Chicken paste (organic)
2 cups water
1/4 cup dried cranberries (craisins), no added sugar
Half lemon, sliced
1/2 cup sun dried tomato feta cheese
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
For the Sauce:
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped basil
Make the Rice Pilaf: 1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium-sized sauce pan. 2. Add orzo pasta and brown rice to melted butter, and stir until it begins to brown just a little. 3. Add water and chicken bouillon paste; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. 4. Then, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking or burning. TIP: Check halfway through cooking, and if you need to add more water, add 1/4 cup of warm water at a time. Set aside while cooking the fish.
Make the Sauce: Mix together 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon chopped basil. Set aside.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil on the salmon and season with salt, pepper and basil, to taste.
Use a potato peeler to create zucchini ribbons, lengthwise.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a nonstick skillet and place over medium heat. Add the salmon and cook for 5 minutes; flip and cook for another 5-6 minutes. After flipping fish the first time, add zucchini ribbons to the pan with the salmon. Because they're thin, they won't need long at all-- just enough to warm them a little. Remove zucchini from pan before salmon is finished.
Place the pilaf on a plate; add salmon and zucchini ribbons.
Scatter with dried cranberries, lemon slices, feta cheese and mint leaves.
Drizzle lemon, honey-dijon sauce on top.
Add an extra squeeze of fresh lemon juice just because.